I’ve taken a few personality tests through the years. Sometimes it was for a class project or a work assignment for team building, and sometimes it was because my friends were really interested and I wanted to see what my type was too.
They’re usually pretty accurate too, and I can see the appeal to figuring out why you react a certain way and seeing that others share the same experiences, or even how others are completely different.
But I think personality tests can also be a hindrance to growing as a person and even growing as a Christian, depending on what we do with the information we learn from the test. It can be really easy to force yourself into a box and stay there with no growth.
I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs personality test several times and mostly gotten the same answer, maybe with a few differences in some of the letters. But most recently (and most often) I test as an ISTJ (Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judgment). Usually, I take that info and I don’t try to change.
The biggest example I see is avoiding interaction with others because I’m an introvert. I don’t try to make new friends because I’m an introvert. I don’t share a lot of time with good friends because I’m an introvert. So I shut myself in this box and don’t try to improve.
I also test as a Type 9 on the Enneagram, which is the Peacemaker or Mediator. One of the major descriptions is conflict avoidant. And while that means external conflict avoidance, it also describes an inner conflict avoidance.
One of the ways that manifests for me is that I avoid my own emotions. And I’ll avoid others when they’re angry or sad because I just don’t know how to help or I feel uncomfortable. But one of the spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12 is Encourager. And while I know that’s not a gift I’ve been given, I don’t think it’s okay to just not respond to people who are upset around me because “it’s not my personality type.”
That’s the biggest thing I’d like to work on. I am praying for the gift of encouragement and will try to encourage others when situations come up. But it’ll take a lot of getting out of my comfort zone.
I should note that usually personality tests list the strengths and weaknesses of each personality and encourage those types to work on their weaknesses. But it’s easy to see the weaknesses, laugh at yourself a bit when you realize how true they are and then continue to set boundaries for yourself because of them.
And this isn’t exactly me trying to change my personality per se, but just trying to improve myself as a friend and a sister in Christ by working on my weaknesses and sins, starting with the spiritual gift of encouragement.
I invite you to do the same. Don’t use personality tests as a way to excuse the sin in your life. Use the tests to help you identify areas of sin and then work on them. Christians must never become stale.